DETROIT (AP) — The wife of a Detroit-area soccer referee filed a $51 million lawsuit Friday against a hot-headed player who is in prison for throwing a punch that killed her husband during a game last summer.
The figure represents $1 million for each of the 51 additional years that John Bieniewicz, 44, could have lived, according to the lawsuit in Wayne County court.
Kristen Bieniewicz of Westland, the representative of her husband's estate, is suing Bassel Saad, another man who controlled the team and the soccer league.
Bieniewicz died after Saad punched him in the head just moments before Saad would have been ejected from a weekend game in Livonia.
"We hope this lawsuit sends a message that when you commit uncivilized acts in a civilized world there are consequences, even beyond the criminal realm," said attorney James Acho, who had known Bieniewicz since childhood.
Cyril Hall, Saad's attorney in the criminal case, said Friday that the lawsuit surprises him.
"Bassel Saad is not an individual of wealth. He was a mechanic," Hall said.
The Associated Press left messages seeking comment from a telephone listing for the soccer league.
Saad, 37, was recently sentenced to at least eight years in prison after pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter. He expressed remorse in court and said he prays for the Bieniewicz family.
The lawsuit also names the Michigan United Soccer League, which is accused of allowing Saad to play despite his reputation as a violent player.
Citing his doctor, the lawsuit described Bieniewicz, who had two children, as being in great health with the potential to live to age 95.
"I speak for his dozens of buddies, many of whom go back to our days at Catholic Central High, and we want justice for his family," said Acho, who is handling the case with co-counsel Karen Daley.